Crispy skillet chicken topped with fresh mozzarella and basil pesto, simple and delicious for a late summer weeknight dinner.
Some dishes are just too easy to be so good and this is one of them. Basically three ingredients that come together perfectly ~ chicken thighs, fresh mozzarella and basil pesto. Start on the stovetop in your cast iron skillet and finish off in the oven.
I love basil pesto this time of year but I confess, I hardly ever make it from scratch anymore. My very favorite store bought pesto is from Costco, it's phenomenal and they tend to have it year round. If you have lots of basil growing in your garden, here's a homemade basil pesto recipe (should you need or want one!).
This recipe is for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, my favorite part of the chicken (sorry breasts). Just season with salt and pepper and brown well in butter before finishing off in the oven. I have also made this with boneless, skin-on thighs and like them very much. I de-bone the thighs myself and save the bones in the freezer for chicken stock.
How to make pesto mozzarella chicken
- Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper
- Brown thighs on both sides in butter until skin is golden
- Pop in oven for 20 minutes
- Top with fresh mozzarella slices and return to oven for 5 minutes
- Spoon basil pesto over chicken and serve!
Let me tell you about the pan sauce going on here. Something magical happens with the chicken pan drippings and pesto with that melted mozzarella. So dang yummy! It just all melds into savory, salty deliciousness. Toss on some garden cherry tomatoes if you have some, chef's kiss.
So, in these dog days of summer, try this pesto mozzarella chicken for a super easy and tasty chicken dinner. And then get a fix this winter to remind you how good it is ~ you don't have to wait for summer. Enjoy, Kelly🍴🐦
Skillet Pesto Mozzarella Chicken
- 4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs depending on size of thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter I use salted
- 4-6 slices fresh mozzarella thick slices
- ½ cup prepared basil pesto, store bought or homemade about 1-2 tablespoons per chicken thigh
- Put a large cast iron skillet in oven and heat for 30 minutes at 400º
- Season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper. With oven mitt, transfer hot skillet to stovetop over medium-high heat. Melt butter in skillet. Brown chicken thighs skin side down for 5-7 minutes until golden. Flip and brown other side for 2-3 more minutes. Transfer to pre-heated 400º oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top each chicken thigh with a mozzarella slice. Return to oven for 5 minutes to melt and finish cooking.
- Remove skillet from oven and top each chicken thigh with a couple of spoonfuls of basil pesto. Let rest for several minutes and then serve, spooning pan juices alongside chicken. Enjoy!
- I use a 10-inch cast iron skillet for 4 decent size thighs. Use a larger skillet for 6 smaller thighs. Just depends on how big the chicken thighs are and how many you want to serve.
- Don't forget to use an oven mitt the entire time, the skillet is hot AF.
- Make sure to use skin-on chicken thighs, boneless if you want.
- Chicken shouldn't stick when flipping, if it does, it's not browned/golden enough to flip, cook a little longer.
- If you have fresh basil, garnish with a leaf on top of each thigh.
- Be sure to let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes before serving.